Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Miners and Oil Shares Get an Early Shakeout

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Miners and Oil Shares Get an Early Shakeout

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

INVESTORS got an early morning wakeup call today as US broker Morgan Stanley began the task of downgrading shares of the big mining and oil companies.

It kicked off its reality check with BHP Billiton, down 10p at 930p, which is in talks to sell part of its stake in Richards Bay Coal Terminal in South Africa. Morgan Stanley has cut its target from 1350p to 1300p. Another victim was Antofagasta, 4p off at 450p, which has been cut from 550p to 500p.

Even Kazakhmys fell 15p to 1035p despite reporting a 9% increase in copper concentrate and 3% rise in copper cathode.In September, the group reported that it expected annual volumes to be only moderately higher.

The oil sector failed to avoid MS's scalpel. It has cut BP, 11/2p off at 537p, from 685p to 610p despite the oil price steadying overnight at around $54 a barrel. But the broker made its move to reflect a big increase in US oil stocks and mounting evidence that Opec producers are lifting March output with forecasts for lower distillate fuel stocks after a cold snap.

In thin trading, the FTSE 100 index fell 4.5 to 6235.4.

GlaxoSmithKline firmed 3p to 1391p and and AstraZeneca 7p to 2818p following reports that US rival Bristol-Myers Squibb is in talks to buy French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis.

Social housing services group Mears fell 201/2p to 330p following news of a

boardroom bust-up which has resulted in the departure of chief executive Stuart Black. The board has asked chairman Bob Holt to take a bigger role in the running of the company and to become chief executive. Holt says he will reduce his outside commitments to concentrate on his new role at Mears.

Visonic tumbled 111/2p to 631/2p after warning it expects full-year results to come in below expectations with pretax profits lower than last year's. But it reaffirmed its commitment to paying a maiden dividend for 2006.

The maker of electronic security systems said its year to 31 December will see net profit improved on 2005 due to a lower tax charge. …

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